Two opposition parties in Zambia on Thursday sought court interpretation and challenged the declaration of a threatened state of emergency which has been approved by lawmakers.
On July 5, Zambian President Edgar Lungu declared a threatened state of emergency through invoking Article 31 of the constitution to allow security agencies to deal with threats of arson and other damage to public properties witnessed since the disputed August 11, 2016 general elections.
The declaration, which initially runs for seven days, was extended for another 90 days when lawmakers approved it on Tuesday.
Eighty-five lawmakers from the ruling party and some independent lawmakers voted in favor of the motion to approve the declaration.
But the main opposition party, which has 58 lawmakers in parliament did not take part as 46 of its lawmakers were on suspension for boycotting Lungu’s address in March while the others who were presented walked out.
In an affidavit filed in the Constitution Court, the United Party for National Development (UPND) is challenging parliament for endorsing Lungu’s decision to invoke Article 31, saying it was ill-conceived.
Stephen Katuka, the party’s secretary-general, has argued in the affidavit that it was unconstitutional for parliament to convene and pass a resolution to approve the declaration in the absence of the suspended opposition lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the Patriots for Economic Progress, another opposition party, has also decided to challenge the declaration in court.
Sean Tembo, the party’s president said the party has decided to seek court interpretation as the declaration was made before investigations could be concluded on the cause of the fire that gutted a popular market in Lusaka, the country’s capital.
“Since the declaration was based on a matter that is not factual makes the declaration null and void,” he said in a statement.